Sierra Leone: Nation's Marine Environment, Resources Protected

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What kinds of pollutants from the country's highlands end up in the river estuaries? What is the effect of these on the coastal ecology and populations?

About 95 per cent of all industries in the country are located in Freetown (oil refinery, brewery, Whitex, distilleries, paint factory). Industrialization consumes resources heavily and
generates huge quantities of waste. Effluents from these factories are discharged directly into the estuaries. There is also major mining activity in the south of the country which may discharge toxic substances into estuaries that may also result in fish kills.

How does Sierra Leone's Environment Protection Act of 2000 apply to polluters of the marine and coastal environments? Who has the power to apply the law and what kind of punishment is reserved for violators?

SLEPA has the power to apply the polluter pay principle. Punishment deals particularly with the withdrawal of license and recently the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources has imposed a fine of 5 million leones [about US $1,250] on poachers. Five per cent of this money goes to the reporters of the offence.

How adequate is the level of funding for SLEPA to carry out its function and prosecute violators?

The level of funding needs to be greatly improved to enable SLEPA monitor the entire coastline.

What is SLEPA or others doing to ensure the environmental quality of coastal habitats and marine ecosystems?

It issues environmental permits/licenses and pollution abatement notices for controlling the volume, types, constituents and effects of waste discharges, emissions, deposits or other sources of pollution and of substances which are hazardous or potentially dangerous to the quality of the coastal habitats, marine ecosystems, environment or any segment of the environment.

Environmental permits/licenses have, as a prerequisite, action plans for the rehabilitation and restoration of degraded habitats and these are closely monitored. The licensing system by the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources takes into consideration also the conservation issues of the marine environment.

Marine monitoring

What systems are in place to enable environmental monitoring of coastal and marine areas, and resources?

The Environment Protection Agency is charged with the responsibility to coordinate and monitor all environmentally related activities of Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government, Councils, NGOs and CBOs.

  • There are NGOs that are working in the field of environmental management and have components of coastal and marine protection and conservation in their work plan. … There are also a number of CBOs that are working in their localities to protect their environment and conserve the resources in their environment. The Sierra Leone Fishermen's Union may fall under this category. 

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